Housework over the Life Course: Trajectories of Change within Marriage

Matthew Loyd, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This paper argues that the division of household labor should be conceptualized and modeled as a trajectory that develops over the course of a relationship. Research on housework is largely cross-sectional, yet prominent housework theories define the division of household labor as a process of negotiation or performance rather than a static contract. Using data from the 1969-2005 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this paper employs growth curve models to (1) describe the development of time spent on housework within a marriage, (2) test for differences in housework trajectories by gender, birth cohort and timing of marriage, and (3) examine the interdependence of change in women’s and men’s housework over time. Findings show that women remain responsible for meeting the increased demand for housework during the first 15 years of marriage, even though the overall level of housework hours has declined substantially for younger cohorts of women.

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Presented in Session 41: Family and Aging